Cat­alo­nia presses for in­de­pen­dence

Lesotho Times - - International -

BARCELONA — Cat­alo­nia’s na­tion­al­ist gov­ern­ment vowed to step up its se­ces­sion drive after over two mil­lion peo­ple voted Sun­day in a sym­bolic in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum which Spain’s cen­tral gov­ern­ment dis­missed it as “use­less”.

Cata­lan gov­ern­ment head Ar­tur Mas called the vote, not sanc­tioned by Madrid, “a to­tal suc­cess” after a large majority of those who took part sup­ported in­de­pen­dence.

The vote “made it very clear that we want to gov­ern our­selves”, he said.

In Barcelona and other ci­ties vot­ers of all ages lined up around the block, some ap­plaud­ing, as polling sta­tions opened after weeks of tense le­gal wran­gling with Span­ish au­thor­i­ties.

Vot­ers were asked for their re­sponse to two ques­tions. The first was: “Do you want Cat­alo­nia to be a state?” If an­swered af­fir­ma­tively, the bal­lot pa­per posed a sec­ond ques­tion: “Do you want that state to be in­de­pen­dent?”

Par­tial re­sults showed 80.7 per­cent of the roughly two mil­lion peo­ple who took part in the vote voted yes to both ques­tions while just over 10 per­cent voted yes for the first ques­tion and no for the sec­ond, Cata­lan vice pres­i­dent Joana Ortega told a news con­fer­ence. About 4.5 per­cent voted no to both ques­tions.

There was no of­fi­cial elec­toral roll but the re­gional gov­ern­ment said 5.4 mil­lion Cata­lans and res­i­dent for­eign­ers aged 16 were el­i­gi­ble to vote in the ref­er­en­dum which was or­gan­ised by thou­sands of vol­un­teers.

“Peo­ple be­lieved that they could de­cide their fu­ture and they turned out en masse,” said Xavier Bar­do­let, aged 44, as he voted in the town of Sant Pere de Torello about 90km north of Barcelona.

The poll was held in the face of fierce op­po­si­tion from the Span­ish gov­ern­ment, and de­spite a con­sti­tu­tional court rul­ing to sus­pend the ex­er­cise.

Jus­tice Min­is­ter Rafael Catala dis­missed the vote as “fruit­less and use­less”.

“The gov­ern­ment con­sid­ers this to be a day of po­lit­i­cal pro­pa­ganda or­gan­ised by pro-in­de­pen­dence forces and de­void of any kind of demo­cratic va­lid­ity”, he said in a state­ment. — AP

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